Strength in numbers – mass display of Iranian attack boats

Photo: Fars News Agency

In an unprecedented show of strength, Iran’s Islamic Republican Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) has put on a display of what an IRGCN spokesperson said were 340 recently delivered fast attack craft (FAC).

This vast display, which took place last February 8 at Bandar Abbas, featured a number of different classes of FAC, including C-14 and Kashdom catamarans, and at least one North Korean-built Taedong-B semi-submersible craft. The event coincided with the 42nd anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

Of particular interest to analysts was a derivative of the 70-knot British Bladerunnner powerboat, armed with small anti-shipping cruise missiles. Iran is known to have covertly obtained a Bladerunner, probably via the UAE, around 2010, and the IRGCN has been operating reverse engineered versions, equipped with unguided rockets, for some years.

Also on display were a large number of Ababil unmanned aerial vehicles. Recent reports indicate that modern IRGCN asymmetrical warfare doctrine includes the deployment of drone swarms in coordination with mass FAC attacks on hostile vessels.

Trevor Hollingsbee

Maritime security expert and columnist, Trevor Hollingsbee was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Senior Superintendent with the Hong Kong Marine Police, Assistant Secretary for Security in the British Hong Kong Government Security Branch, and Intelligence Analyst in the UK Ministry of Defence. As an independent defence and security analyst he has had some 1,500 articles on maritime security, and geopolitical topics, published in a range of international journals and newspapers. He is an Associate Fellow of the Nautical Institute, and a past Vice-Chairman of the Institute’s Hong Kong branch.